Today was a super early start. We had to be up and ready for 5AM as we had cars coming to pick us up to visit the Akagera national park. We had 2 cars planned for 5AM, and sure enough it turned up on time, but only one. This meant we had to squeeze 8 people into one car so we could meet the next car a short drive away. After we had both cars, we made our way to the national park, where we were hoping to see some Native African animals.
Our driver was a man of few words (4 to be exact: “yes”, “video”, “picture” and “elephant”), so we slept all the way to the park which was a few hours away. When we got in the park, we were instantly greeted by a family of zebras and a baboon on the roof at the reception. At the reception we received a verbal guide on “how to stay alive”, which was both very useful and unsettling for some. We also received some entertainment in the form of Tyler going into the female toilets (by accident), where he caused a queue of 5, very surprised ladies, who fled the toilets after hearing his manly voice emerge from the cubicle.
During our 8 hour bumpy ride through the park we came up close with baboons and other types of monkeys, loads of antelopes, hippos, zebras, giraffes and elephants. Both drivers were filled with fear when we encountered the elephants as they were so big that they could easily crush both of our 4x4s. One member of the first elephant family was not so happy about our cars being there, so he chased the second car away, leaving us all in fear.
The drive then consisted of spotting loads of antelopes, monkeys and zebras followed by approximately 40 minutes of extremely bumpy roads and no animals in sight. Some of us began losing hope that we would see any other animals, but we then spotted a large empty plane filled with giraffes feeding on the trees.
We also came across a quite scary looking lonely hippo, which we drove away from promptly because our driver thought it may attack our car. After another long, bumpy, animal-free 20 minutes, we encountered an elephant, which was blocking our path. We had to just wait until it moved voluntarily as trying to pass it closely could have ended very badly and painfully. The rest of the drive out of the park consisted of me, Megan and the driver fighting flies, spiders and other funky insects with a cloth.
I found today one of the most exciting days here in Rwanda, as we managed to encounter loads of wild African animals up-close.